The Telegraph | 24 Sep 2013
Britain leads push to convince Washington to back transatlantic free trade deal
Nick Clegg will arrive in Washington today to spearhead a British-led attempt to convince members of Congress to back an EU-US free trade agreement.
By Raf Sanchez, Washington
The deputy prime minister will launch a British embassy report which argues that a free trade deal would create around 740,000 American jobs and benefit all 50 US states.
The report, seen by The Daily Telegraph, is intended to convince members of Congress to back an agreement and to help them sell the prospect of a deal to their constituents.
While the White House strongly supports the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the final deal is likely to involve politically-difficult US concessions on financial regulation, agriculture and "Buy America Provisions" which favour American companies in public procurement bids.
"This reports scratches members of Congress where they itch, which is with an eye towards the impact of trade deals on their areas of the country," Senator Chris Murphy, the chair of the Senate’s Europe sub-committee, told The Daily Telegraph.
In an effort to continue momentum towards a final agreement, Mr Clegg will today meet with Joe Biden, the US vice-president, and brief him on the findings of the report.
The document, entitled TTIP and the Fifty States: Jobs and Growth from Coast to Coast, will be sent to every member of Congress as well as to governors, state politicians and local business groups.
It finds that under the terms of an ambitious model agreement all 50 states would see new jobs created and an average 33 per cent rise in exports to the EU by 2027.
The report predicts that the auto sector would be one of the top beneficiaries of an agreement, providing a welcome boost to Detroit, the bankrupt home of the American car industry.
Exports of US chemicals and metal products to Europe are also expected to be rise sharply if the free trade deal were signed.
The report was crafted by the British embassy along with the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank, and the Bertelsmann Foundation, a German research group.
It offers an insight into how foreign governments try to move their priority issues through America’s deeply divided Congress - by giving legislators ammunition to convince their own constituents to support a deal.
"These trade agreements are voted through by individual members of Congress who represent individual states and we want to make sure these lawmakers have all the information and arguments they need to make the case for this deal," said Sir Peter Westmacott, the British ambassador to Washington.
While TTIP is widely supported by both Democrats and Republicans, European negotiators expect to encounter political resistance as the details of US concessions are worked out.
Mr Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, said that the talks were in a "honeymoon stage" which would end "when the horse trading begins and both sides realize they have to give something to get something."
He added that the US wanted the 28 EU member states to "stay on one page" with a single negotiating position, pointing to recent efforts by France to exempt the digital media sector from the talks.
"We’ve got to know that we’re negotiating with one entity rather than dozens as we head into the more thorny issues," he said.
Mr Clegg will also meet with Senator Max Baucus, the powerful chair of the Senate Finance Committee, to discuss the trade deal.
The first round of negotiations between the European Commission and the Office of the US Trade Representative began in Washington in July and will resume in October in Brussels.
Negotiations are expected to take around two years and then the agreement will need to be ratified by Congress and the European Council, which is comprised of the heads of government from all member states.